"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Movie Review (Sweet, Cute & Funny): Juno

As you may have heard by now — since one can't throw a hamburger telephone without hitting another Juno lover — there are so many reasons to see Juno and basically no reason not to. So, just how endearing can one movie be? Let me count the ways . . .

The story.
The plot is basically this: Smart-talking teenage Juno (Ellen Page) and her goofy (yet self-aware) best guy friend/onetime sexual partner Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) find themselves unexpectedly expecting, and Juno seeks out a well-to-do young couple (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) to adopt the baby. What's wonderful about this story is that it's simple, and the things that make it interesting are merely the things you would expect to make it interesting in real life: the actual emotions involved in being a pregnant high school kid; the strains of parenthood on a couple; the what-now limbo pains of two people who had sex and now don't know where they stand. It's sweeter and stranger than real life, but only by a little bit, so it's still relateable.

The script.
First-time screenwriter Diablo Cody astounds me. There have been countless comparisons drawn between this movie and Napoleon Dynamite, but Juno simply has more compassion and is way cuter. Cody manages to balance humor and heart in a way that's accessible but not overdone, quirky but not "weird for weird's sake" and touching but not saccharine. She's my new American hero.

The music.
From the original music by Kimya Dawson to beloved favorites by Belle and Sebastian and Sonic Youth, the soundtrack to this movie is a hipster's wet dream. Every song in the film is so in keeping with the tone of Juno's world, you can't help but be swept along her journey with her. And if I think about the final scene's song too much, I will cry immediately. So, there's that.

The main character.
Juno is such an engaging character in every way. She's funny, sharply sarcastic, adorable, and a huge know-it-all. She's at times very young and scarily vulnerable, but this is easy to forget because she considers herself such a tough girl. Even if her adventure weren't so compelling, you would want to accompany her anywhere.

Jason Reitman's direction.
There is something about this director's attention to detail that is somehow comforting. The audience is completely immersed in this world, especially in the characters' homes, down to the last goofy-yet-still-preppy photo of the wealthy married couple and Juno's parents' worn furniture. Reitman truly wants us to sit cross-legged in Juno's room for a while, and this welcoming tone only deepens our affection for Juno and all the people she cares about.

Bottom line: If you're prone to enjoying these kinds of films — smaller indie movies with a lot of humor and some moments so sweet you might burst — Juno is for you.

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